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Flags. Tea. Immigrants. Let the Magna Carta celebrations begin…

June 17, 2014

Who What is the Magna Carta good for?

Yesterday marked a year until the 800th year anniversary of this “great document”.  So with 364 days to go until this grand show of British Values, British principles, British cakes and most probably an abundance of British flags, David Cameron and other figures of ‘Britishness‘ have decided the Magna Carta should be celebrated as the “foundations of laws and principles”.

DC plans to have all children and clearly most importantly – Immigrants, learning about the Magna Carta as a way of tracing back British social, economic and political values. Our liberal values which stem from this document should be celebrated. But all our other liberal achievements (that were actually mostly drafted by Conservatives) such as the ECHR should probably be put in a cupboard somewhere and not mentioned….who would want a modern more recent affirmation of values?…oh I forgot – these aren’t British, they are European. I forget these are different things. Silly me. 

My favourite quote about this whole issue is – “back then plebs had the same Human Rights as a parsnip”.  And this should be remembered. The Magna Carta wasn’t made for ordinary folk; it was a way of King John putting legal constraints on wealthy landowners. King v Very rich people. That sums up the whole thing really. The legal significance might be important but unless you are a legal academic or a student being made to listen to droning on about the laws of the 13th Century, why should you care?

The answer is, you shouldn’t. Politicians just want another British thing to celebrate. But is the problem really that Britain isn’t British enough?

The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Menu, the Great British Sewing Bee, Downton Abbey even!…The 2012 Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, flags on cushions, posters, mugs and tea becoming a new quirky thing young people use to make them seem quintessentially British but somehow edgy…We are British. You couldn’t get more Britishness into one decade if we put all bull dogs into one Union Jack covered house and only fed them tea, digestives and scones and taught them to do Queen impressions…

As someone interested in law I want to see the value of celebrating the Magna Carta. But I can’t. It’s hype to distract from illiberal policies and opinions. We should teach children about modern-day laws, the ECHR, the HRA, International Laws that are there to protect freedom and give people rights. We should teach about politics not Britishness.  I don’t know what being British means, I don’t know how to tell if someone is or is not British. But I do know that within 364 days there will be so much flag twirling and cucumber sandwich eating, the Great British public will show how British they are and this is important because this. is. SPARTA. Great Britain. The nation of British people, British values and most importantly – this is a darn good excuse to bring Immigrants up again…I’ll call UKIP right away.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2014 4:15 pm

    Interesting, I wrote this a few weeks ago.
    I think it might hit a few similar notes; http://shandypint.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/i-know-what-i-know/

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